US Sanctions | EU Sanctions | UK Sanctions | Russia/Ukraine Sanctions | Other Notable Developments

Russia/Ukraine Sanctions Update – Week of April 17, 2023


  • OFAC Publishes Alert on Possible Evasion of Russian Oil Price Cap: On April 17, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published an alert to warn U.S. persons about possible evasion of the price cap on crude oil originated from Russia, especially involving oil exported through the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline and ports on the eastern coast of Russia. Specifically, the alert identifies deceptive practices such as the manipulation of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) to disguise a tanker’s port of call in Russia as evidence of possible evasion, as well as opaque shipping costs which can be used to obfuscate the fact that Russian oil was purchased above the price cap. Read more>>
  • BIS Adds 28 Entities to Entity List: On April 17, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published a rule on the Federal Register to add 28 entities under 32 entries to the Entity List.  These entities are listed under the destinations of Armenia (1), China (12), Malta (1), Russia (10), Singapore (1), Spain (1), Syria (1), Turkey (1), the UAE (2), and Uzbekistan (2).  They are alleged to have either attempted to evade export controls and acquire U.S.-origin items in support of Russia’s military; assisted in the transfer of Iranian equipment to Russia; continued to procure items on behalf of sanctioned Russian parties; or significantly contributed to Russia’s military and/or defense industrial base. The rule came into effect on April 12, 2023.  Read more>>
  • BIS Renews Orders Denying Export Privileges to URAL Airlines JSC and Aviastar—TU: On April 13 and 19, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) respectively granted the requests of the Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) to renew orders denying the export privileges to URAL Airlines JSC and Aviastar—TU.  The temporary denial orders were renewed on the basis that despite the sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, the said entities had disregarded these export controls and continued to operate designated aircrafts on flights into and out of Russia, as well as domestically within Russia.  Read more>> and  Read more>>
  • Second Conspirator in Russia-Ukraine Sanctions Violation Case Arrested: On April 19, the Department of Justice announced that Sergey Karpushkin, a citizen of Belarus, has been arrested and charged by a federal criminal complaint with engaging in a scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against oligarch Sergey Kurchenko and his related companies by purchasing over $150 million in steelmaking materials.  His alleged co-conspirator, John C. Unsalan, was arrested on April 14 for the same scheme and on related charges.  Kurchenko and his related companies were sanctioned by the OFAC in 2015 and 2018 respectively for misappropriating Ukrainian state assets and providing material support to separatist-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine. Read more>> 
  • U.S. Provides Additional Security Assistance to Ukraine: On April 19, the Biden administration announced that it is authorizing its 36th drawdown of U.S. arms and equipment for Ukraine valued at $325 million.  This security assistance package includes more ammunition for U.S.-provided HIMARS and artillery rounds, anti-armor systems, small arms, logistics support vehicles, and maintenance support to strengthen Ukraine’s defenders on the battlefield.  Read more>> and Read more>> 
  • Secretary Yellen Says Sanctions Against Russia Could Hurt the US Dollar: On April 16, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an interview that the U.S.’s economic sanctions on Russia could “undermine the hegemony of the dollar,” creating a desire for countries such as Iran and China to seek alternative currencies for trade. The comment came after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva lashed out at the dominance of the greenback last week and called on emerging nations to come up with an alternative currency for trade, with the Chinese yuan emerging as a strong contender. However, Secretary Yellen maintained that it would not be easy to replicate the ecosystem that supports the dollar’s dominance.  Read more>> 
  • President Biden Extends Emergency Authority on Russian Vessels at U.S. Ports: On April 18, President Biden announced that he is continuing for one year the national emergency declared pursuant to Proclamation 10371 on April 21, 2022, with respect to the disturbance or threatened disturbance of international relations of the United States, which authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to regulate the anchorage and movement of Russian-affiliated vessels to U.S. ports.  President Biden determined that it was necessary to continue the national emergency beyond April 21, 2023, as the policies and actions of the Russian government to continue its war against Ukraine continue to disturb the U.S.’s international relations.  Read more>> 
  • U.S. Government to Invest $20 Million to Further Bolster Transparency in Direct Budget Support to Ukraine: On April 17, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that the U.S. government is allocating an additional $20 million to further enhance oversight and transparency in the direct budget support the U.S. provides to Ukraine.  The new funding will, on top of the direct budget support provided to the Government of Ukraine through the World Bank reimbursement mechanism, allow the USAID to further reinforce oversight and accountability of the Ukrainian government’s management of assistance funds that help lay the groundwork for Ukraine’s recovery.  This announcement follows the USAID Administrator Samantha Power and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s meetings with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, where they reaffirmed that accountability and transparency remain an utmost priority both to protect U.S. taxpayer dollars and to ensure the funds continue to meet the urgent needs of the Ukrainian people.  Read more>> 
  • Defense Official Says Recent Intel Leaks Unlikely to Deter Partnered Commitment to Ukraine: On April 17, a senior defense official said that the recent leak of U.S. classified military information which partly involved operations in Ukraine is unlikely to “hamper the ongoing efforts of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) to support Ukraine.”  The UDCG is set to hold its eleventh meeting on April 21, 2023, where, as with past meetings, discussions are expected to revolve around providing continued support to Ukraine both for now and for its future defense, while at the same time ensuring that nations involved in providing that support can maintain their own defense.  The U.S. and its allies are determined “not to allow any kind of negative information or spinning of negative information to undermine our unity and our focus and strength of purpose,” according to the official.  Read more>> and Read more>> 
  • Secretary Yellen Criticizes China for Close Ties to Russia: On April 20, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivered remarks on the US-China relationship at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Though the remarks were largely focused on bilateral relations between the two global powers, Secretary Yellen criticized China’s close relationship with Russia since the start of the Ukraine war, saying, “China’s ‘no limits’ partnership and support for Russia is a worrisome indication that it is not serious about ending the war. It is essential that China and other countries do not provide Russia with material support or assistance with sanctions evasion.” Read more>> 
  • Deputy Treasury Secretary Discusses Coordination on Sanctions and Export Controls With Latvian and Lithuanian Finance Leaders: On April 13, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo met with Latvia’s Minister of Finance Arvils Ašeradens and Lithuania’s Minister of Finance Gintarė Skaistė respectively to discuss the coordination of sanctions and export controls on Russia in response to its aggression towards Ukraine.  Specifically, the leaders noted the importance of countering Russia’s attempts to evade sanctions and the success of the Russian oil price cap in achieving its two objectives of limiting Russia’s revenue while promoting energy market stability. Read more>> 
  • US Responds to Increased Imports of Chips to Russia: On April 18, The New York Times reported that US officials are racing to respond to Russian imports of semiconductor chips. Tax and trade officials have reported Russia has procured chips and electronic components through Armenia, Kazakhstan, and other countries, even though leaders like BIS head Alan Estevez note that the current export control regime has hampered Russia’s “ability to sustain and reconstitute a military force.” The US has responded to these reports by increasing restrictions on companies and organizations in other countries that are supplying Russia. Read more>> 

2. EU Sanctions

  • Wagner Group and RIA FAN Added to the EU's Sanctions List: The Council today decided to add the Wagner Group and RIA FAN to the list of those subject to EU restrictive measures for actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Read more>>
  • EU Updates Information on Designated Persons : The Council of the EU has received new information concerning certain persons subject to restrictive measures and listed in Annex I to Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 and has updated the entries concerning 35 persons. Read more>>
  • Germany Pushes for Nuclear Energy in EU’s Next Russia Sanctions Package: Germany is pushing for the European Union to include the civilian nuclear sector in the bloc’s new sanctions package against Russia, the Economy Ministry said. Read more>>
  • Lithuania Suggests Splitting EU's Rosatom Sanctions into Seven Parts: As the European Union mulls a new package of restrictions on Russia, Lithuania suggests splitting the sanctions on Rosatom into separate parts and decide on each of them separately, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says. Read more>> 
  • Bulgaria Bans Import of Some Ukrainian Goods: The government decided on Wednesday that Bulgaria will ban the import of nearly 20 Ukrainian goods, including grain, from 24 April to 30 June, following in the footsteps of Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Read more>>  
  • Brussels Wants to Help Eastern Countries Shift Ukrainian Grain: The European Commission appears set to give in to some demands from Eastern EU member countries and will offer to help them move surplus Ukrainian grain currently stuck on their territories, while keeping open the possibility of imposing tariffs on agricultural products at a later stage. Read more>>  
  • EU Claims that Unilateral Polish, Hungarian Bans on Ukrainian Grain, Food Imports are ‘Unacceptable’:A unilateral ban on grain and other food products from Ukraine by European Union member states is unacceptable, a European Commission spokesperson said on April 16 after Poland and Hungary stopped imports from Ukraine to protect local farmers. “It is important to underline that trade policy is of EU exclusive competence and, therefore, unilateral actions are not acceptable,” the spokesperson said, adding that “it is crucial to coordinate and align all decisions within the EU.” As of now both Poland and Hungary have declared that they lift the ban. Read more>> and Read more>>  

3. UK Sanctions

  • OFSI Issues General Licence – INT/2023/2883496: On April 14, 2023, OFSI issued a General Licence under Regulation 64 of The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. The general licence authorises Russian Railways to pay Lithuanian Railways for Relevant Passenger Rail Travel. Relevant Passenger Rail Travel is the transit of persons between the Kaliningrad Region and other parts of Russia via the passenger rail service operated by Lithuanian Railways and excludes the transit of goods. Lithuanian Railways may receive payments from Russian Railways for Relevant Passenger Rail Travel and a Person (including a Relevant Institution) may carry out any activity reasonably necessary to effect the payment of Relevant Passenger Rail Travel. Read more>> and Read more>> 
  • UK Updates Guidance on Co-Mingling in Respect of The Ban on Russian Oil & Oil Products: On April 14, 2023, the Department for Business and Trade published updated guidance on the UK’s ban on the import, acquisition, supply and delivery of Russian oil and oil products into the UK and associated ancillary services in respect of these activities. The updated guidance intends to clarify the position on co-mingling and provide more information on what suppliers should do to ensure that they comply with sanctions. Read more>> 
  • UK Government Publishes High Value Dealer Guidance: On April 18, 2023, OFSI published High Value Dealer Guidance providing direction on financial sanctions implementation for high value dealers, luxury goods markets and art market participants. The Guidance lists sanctions risks and outlines reporting obligations for high value dealers, as well as identifying best practices. Read more>> 
  • UK SRA Questionnaire to Assess How Firms Are Complying with Financial Sanctions: On April 18, 2023, the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) released guidance that requires certain SRA regulated firms to complete an assessment outlining how they are making sure they comply with the UK’s financial sanctions regime. The relevant firms are those who were not previously required to provide a return as part of the 2022 anti-money laundering information exercise. They will be required to complete a questionnaire from 2 - 31 May 2023. The SRA will contact the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) or the Authorised Signatory of the relevant firms at the start of May with further instructions on the process. Read more>> 
  • UK Warns of Attacks from New ‘Wagner-Like’ Russian Cyber Hackers: On April 19, 2023, it was reported that the Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden issued a national alert at the Cyber UK event that Russian hackers organised along the lines of the paramilitary Wagner group are seeking “to disrupt or destroy” parts of the UK’s critical national infrastructure. The alert was addressed to key businesses amid growing international concern that as Russia struggles in Ukraine, an under-pressure Kremlin is searching for new ways to threaten the west. Read more>>  

4. Russian/Ukraine Sanctions

  • Ukraine Expands Sanctions Lists: On 15 April 2023 Ukraine added 438 individuals and 254 legal entities to the sanctions list. The amendments were implemented by two Orders of the President of Ukraine, which entered into force on 18 April. Read more>>
  • Russia Floats Idea of Paying Foreign Companies Selling Assets in Bonds, Not Cash: Russia will work on a proposal to pay foreign companies selling assets in the country with central bank bonds tied to Russian reserves frozen abroad, instead of cash, the central bank said on Thursday, as a way to reduce rouble volatility.Asset sales by investors from so-called "unfriendly" countries, those that imposed sanctions against Moscow, require approval from a government commission. The finance ministry has said exit transactions should be carried out within strict limits under central bank control. Read more>>
  • Russia Finds New Market For Its Fuels In The Middle East: On April 18, 2023, it was reported that the trade shift in Russian oil flows is benefitting Moscow’s Middle Eastern allies in the OPEC+ pact as the biggest Arab Gulf oil producers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), scoop up Russia’s fuels at discounted prices. With Western markets shut for Russia’s crude and products, new trade routes have emerged, and the countries sitting on some of the largest oil reserves are beginning to import Russian diesel, naphtha, and fuel oil. Read more>>
  • Price Cap Loophole Is Undermining Sanctions on Russian Oil: On April 19, 2023, a report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air suggested that Europe has boosted imports of refined petroleum products from countries that have raised imports of Russian crude oil, as a major loophole in the sanction’s risks undermining the effectiveness of the price cap and embargoes. The EU, Australia, and most of the G7 countries have banned direct imports of Russian crude oil, but they have raised indirectly imports of Russian oil by purchasing higher volumes of oil products from countries that have become the biggest buyer of Russia’s crude. Read more>> 
  • Cashing Out of Russia Will Come with New Tax on Foreign Business: On April 20, 2023, it was reported that foreign firms exiting Russia will not be exempt from a windfall tax. The windfall tax being implemented in Russia will also apply to firms that have an exit deal lined up. The Russian Ministry of Finance is preparing regulations which would oblige companies to pay a windfall tax on excess profits made in 2021–2022, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. In addition to domestic corporations, the tax could target firms that have left Russia amid Western sanctions. Read more>>
  • Russian Telecoms Warn of Higher Prices Without Grid Subsidy: On April 20, 2023, it was reported that Russian telecoms operators have warned the government of rising tariffs and weaker infrastructure investment after it withdrew subsidized rates for new base station connections.Russia ended a subsidized rate of 550 roubles ($6.73) for connecting facilities with a capacity of up to 15 kilowatts (KW) to the power grid, setting a new price of 3,000 roubles per KW. Read more>> 
  • Russia Plans to Mine Crypto for Cross-Border Deals: On April 17, 2023, Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina announced that the Bank of Russia is working on a bill that will introduce an “experimental legal regime” for cryptocurrencies to be used exclusively in export-import deals.The country’s government is also working on a bill that will create a national agency to license and supervise cryptocurrency platforms operating in Russia. Read more>>
  • Russia Building Reserves in Assets the West Can't Sanction: On April 18, 2023, Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina announced that Russia is building its international reserves with assets that cannot be targeted by Western sanctions. The central bank has previously said it considers gold, Chinese yuan and foreign currency held in cash as safe from possible further rounds of Western sanctions. Read more>>
  • Russia's Monthly Producer Price Index Rises for Second Month Running: On April 19, 2023, the Russian State Statistics Service Rosstat published data that the costs in Russia's manufacturing sector rose for the second month running in March driven by a sharp jump in the cost of mining, extraction and some petroleum product production. The producer prices index (PPI), a measure of costs in the manufacturing sector, increased 0.9% in March. In February, the index rose for the first-time month-on-month since April 2022. Read more>>
  • Russia's Ozon Begins Settling with Bondholders in US Dollars & Roubles: On April 19, 2023, it was reported Russian e-commerce firm Ozon has started making payments in U.S. dollars and roubles to bondholders who had provided their information before an April 5 cut-off date. Ozon is currently appealing a decision by the US Nasdaq exchange to de-list its shares, which have not traded on the U.S. exchange since February 2022. Read more>> 
  • Kremlin Critic Vladimir Kara-Murza Jailed for 25 Years for Condemning Ukraine War: On April 17, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent Russian human rights advocate and Kremlin critic, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after publicly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The political activist was on trial for criminal offenses including treason, spreading fake news about the Russian army, and facilitating activities of an undesirable organization.  He was initially detained one year ago, a move that was considered a serious abuse to human rights by the international community and prompted sanctions by the Biden administration last month.  The U.S. along with its allies condemned the conviction of Mr. Kara-Murza and called for his release. Read more>> 
  • Russian Oil Exports Hit Nearly 3-Year High in March Despite Revenue Drop: Russian oil exports jumped to their highest level in almost three years in March despite Western sanctions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on Friday, though Moscow's oil revenues nevertheless dropped sharply from last year.The IEA said total oil shipments from Russia had risen by 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 8.1 million bpd last month. While Russia's oil revenues rebounded by $1 billion to $12.7 billion, they were still down 43% compared to a year ago. Read more>>
  • Russia Moves to Outlaw Compliance With International Criminal Court: Russian lawmakers are set to consider making it a criminal offense to comply with International Criminal Court (ICC) orders to arrest President Vladimir Putin for war crimes, the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said Thursday. The ICC issued a shock arrest warrant for Putin and his children’s rights commissioner in March for the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children to Russia. The decision drew ire from Russian officials. Read more>>

5. Other Notable Developments

  • Switzerland Harmonizes Sanctions List with EU: On April 20, the Swiss Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research announced that it had added the Wagner Group and news organization RIA FAN to its sanctions list. The Wagner Group was added for its support of Russia’s military conflict in Ukraine, and RIA FAN was sanctioned for dissemination of pro-government propaganda. These restrictions enter into force on the evening of the announcement. In addition, the statement notes that RT Arabic and Sputnik Arabic may continue broadcasting in Switzerland, but advertising on those channels is prohibited. Read more>>
  • G7 Reportedly Considering Near-Total Ban on Exports to Russia: On April 20, Bloomberg reported that G7 officials are discussing the possibility of an outright ban on exports of most materials to Russia, in advance of the G7 leader’s summit in May. The proposal would essentially invert the current sanctions regime, with all exports being banned unless specifically exempted; medical and agricultural products are expected to be exempted. Bloomberg expects this proposal to be a difficult sell, due to concerns about getting all EU member states on board with the proposal and the fear that the ban would further strengthen economic ties between China and Russia. Read more>>
  • China Protests U.S. Sanctions on Firms Dealing with Russia: On April 15, The Associated Press reported that Beijing protested U.S. sanctions against additional Chinese and Hong Kong companies over their alleged attempts to evade U.S. export controls on Russia.  In a published statement, China’s Commerce Ministry commented that the U.S. action had “no basis in international law,” and was “a typical unilateral sanction and a form of ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ which seriously damage[d] the legitimate rights and interests of enterprises and affect[ed] the security and stability of the global supply chain.”  It also pressed the U.S. to “immediately correct its wrongdoing and stop its unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies.”  Read more>>
  • Melnichenkos Push for Removal from Canadian Sanctions List: On April 16, reports emerged Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko and his wife Aleksandra filed applications in the Federal Court of Canada in late March. The pair claim that they have been wrongfully labeled as “elites and close associates” of the Russian regime; they have been on Canada’s sanctions list since October 2022. Global Affairs Canada is not permitted to comment on individual cases such as this one. Read more>>
  • G7 Rebukes Switzerland for Russian Sanctions Loopholes: On April 15, Financial Times reported that the G7 has privately rebuked Switzerland for not doing enough to combat Russian oligarchs evading sanctions.  In a letter sent to the Swiss government, signed by G7 ambassadors in Bern and the EU’s ambassador, the group claimed that Swiss privacy laws and other “loopholes” were being exploited by Russian to hide billions of francs in offshore assets.  Although the Swiss state secretariat for economic affairs (Seco) said it had already frozen 7.5 billion francs of Russian assets, G7 ambassadors doubted that the “total held in Switzerland could be significant[ly] higher,” adding that more work was urgently needed to ensure compliance with the sanctions regime.  A spokesperson for Seco said the G7’s claims were “baseless” and that the Swiss government had been “swift to align itself” with western sanctions on Russia. Read more>>
  • South Korea Indicates Possibility of Military Aid to Ukraine: On April 19, Reuters reported that South Korea “might extend its support for Ukraine beyond humanitarian and economic aid if it comes under a large-scale civilian attack,” according to President Yoon Suk Yeol.  In an interview ahead of his state visit to the U.S. next week, President Yoon said that his administration has been exploring ways to help defend and rebuild Ukraine, just as how South Korea had received international assistance during the 1959-53 Korean War.  Specifically, he said it might be “difficult for [South Korea] to insist only on humanitarian or financial support” if “there is a situation the international community cannot condone, such as any large-scale attack on civilians, massacre or serious violation of the laws of war,” suggesting, for the first time in over a year, a shift of stance against providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Read more>>
  • Bangladesh Finds Way to Pay Russia for Nuclear Plant: With Yuan: On April 17, Nikkei Asia reported that Bangladesh’s Ministry of Finance had reached an agreement with a Russian high-level delegation to pay the bills for the still under construction Rooppur power plant, worth $110 million, in Chinese yuan.  Because of Western sanctions banning Russia from accessing much of the international banking system, Dhaka has been struggling with ways to settle repayments to Russia.  According to the ministry, paying in yuan was the “most viable option under the present circumstances,” as the sanctions against Russian banks rendered the country unable to process payment in U.S. dollars, and paying in rubles as requested by Russia was infeasible.  Read more>>
  • Russian Memo Reveals Concerns of Overreliance on Chinese Technologies: On April 19, Bloomberg reported that according to a previously unreported assessment from inside Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, senior Russian officials had privately raised concerns about the risks of being overdependent on Chinese technologies, after Western sanctions shut off the country’s access to alternative suppliers.  Specifically, the report, drafted in the summer of 2022, highlighted chips, network devices and electronics as areas of particular vulnerability, and suggested that Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. could come to dominate the Russian market, posing a risk to the country’s information security and networks. Read more>>